Here comes another contribution to my summaries for my list with Susan Lindee. Topic of the day: “History, Tools, and Practices of Genetics and Hereditary Science.” My original notes are much longer than what I provide in this essay, but I have a maximum of six pages to deliver. So I had to cut some of my observations. Have fun! Continue reading
Out of loyalty, I won’t share much of the email exchanges I’ve witnessed over the course of the past two days—both amongst neuroscientists and amongst the “queer folks.” But here’s what happened: Ingalhalikar et al. published an article in late 2013 revealing the allegedly true cause for the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional differences between men and women. At least, that’s how the popular press translated the reported results of sex differences in structural brain connections between female and male brains. I reviewed the study and many voices have been much more critical than mine.
In the meantime, Jürgen Hänggi et al. have published a paper suggesting that the above-mentioned structural brain connections correlate with brain size. This bolsters Neuroskeptic’s and others’ assumption that the measured effects in Ingalhalikar et al. 2013 are themselves a consequence of the bigger average brain size in men, and not any direct cause of stereotypical behavior. Continue reading
I want to draw your attention—again—to some fabulous work of others: an incredibly cute owl I encountered on one of the books I’m reading for my summer project, and two remarkable recent weblog posts on experiments in the life sciences. Continue reading
Today was the second day of classes. Everybody still can hardly wrap their head around the fact that the new semester started before Labor Day … To me, however, it already feels like I have been at the Department for weeks: So much talking, advising, reading, having dinner and coffee together, so many skilled faculty members (with a sense of humor!!), and, of course, amazingly helpful and friendly fellow graduate students. Since I will almost certainly want to write a lot about the readings for my courses later (three to five standard history of science/technology works plus primary sources and articles each week), I want to seize today’s opportunity and share some earlier thoughts stimulated during a discussion in January: One of my professors mentioned a conference on evolutionary psychology he had attended years ago where a research group presented a paper1 explaining that they had managed to locate culture in the brain by using fMRI. Wow! How could anyone ever define “culture” precisely enough in order to allow setting up an experiment on the brain’s reactions when it is opposed to culture, let alone localize (material foundations of) culture in the brain?! Continue reading